BRUSSELS, Belgium – UKIP leader Nigel Farage spoke today at the Politico.eu Playbook Breakfast in Brussels, where he weighed in on the ongoing debate over who should run the ‘Leave’ group in the upcoming EU referendum campaign.
His comments come shortly after more spats between Leave.EU campaigner Arron Banks and the more muted campaign, ‘Business for Britain’, run by Matthew Elliott.
Farage lauded the Leave.EU campaign, which he signed up to at the UKIP party conference in Doncaster last week. He also complimented Elliott for having good research staff, but said that he worried that the latter group wasn’t able to reach outside the Westminster bubble.
“We (UKIP) are the political party that is united in wanting Britain to vote to leave,” he began on the subject, before going on to attack Conservative Party Eurosceptics for their delays in launching their campaign.
“The current Tory Eurosceptic position appears to be exemplified by John Redwood (MP)…” He spoke of how a number of MPs, and the Business for Britain group that they have created, are playing a “wait and see” game around what Cameron comes back with from his renegotiation.
Blogger Guido Fawkes revealed in a speech this week that the Prime Minister’s aides are “not even pretending its real”.
“We can’t let Cameron set his own agenda…” remarked Farage. “I’m not actually convinced that its politicians that are going to win the day,” he claimed, noting that people like Arron Banks and businessman Jim Mellon are currently the driving forces behind the out campaign.
“We have a group in Tufton Street in Westminster,” he said, “that have taken six months to decide that they want to leave the EU. They produce very good research… but I question their ability to reach out beyond Westminster”.
Later in his speech, Mr Farage credited the Business for Britain crowd with getting Tories to force a government U-turn on the purdah rules – those that dictate if the government can make announcements about EU membership during the campaign period.
Yesterday, UKIP MP Douglas Carswell implied that he believed Arron Banks and his Leave.EU campaign would not get the official campaign designation for the referendum from the Electoral Commission, calling them “losers”.